Onboard like a pro in your next season training meeting.

The end of the calendar year is when many amusement facilities focus on reviewing successes and planning for the next year. And for seasonal attractions that re-open in the spring, it’s nearly crunch time to finish outlining offerings and onboarding programs.

Hosting a season or new year kick-off meeting is a great way for your facility to celebrate past successes and discuss challenges, and to set expectations of what’s to come. But during this busy time of year, meeting details can easily slip through the cracks, making for a lackluster kick-off event. Be sure you’re ready for your next season by including these seven critical elements to your next training meeting.

No. 1: Set a theme for the year.

Just like when you set an overarching goal or resolution in your personal life, your team members will love to rally around a theme. What is the biggest initiative your facility will focus on? Will it be targeted at guest experience with an acronym like EPIC – Energy, Preparation, Imagination, and Care? Will it be to Promote the Wow: with goals for meaningful guest interactions, upselling, or new experiences? Whether it’s a fun theme around a new acronym or a play on one or more of your core values, themes can infuse energy into your team and provide a framework for a fun, meaningful event that provides stickiness.

You can even carry the theme throughout the season with guest comment cards, promotion goals and team member incentive programs to continuously reinforce the concepts.

No. 2: Celebrate your success.

People who feel appreciated always do more than expected, and team member survey results the world over show that many team members feel they don’t get enough recognition. So it’s a no-brainer that a kick-off should include recognition of the people who make a difference for each other and guests.

Be sure to vary the types of awards and criteria for declaring winners. When it seems like the same team members win all of the awards, it can be demotivating for others. Consider objective criteria like team member sales reports for awards for highest sales and most upsells, or for the team member who got the most 5-star comment cards. Then use subjective criteria for Party Host with the Most or Most Improved Team Member. Keep the event positive and upbeat, highlighting the key behaviors you wish to see more of in the future.

No. 3: Set new goals or targets.

Next to lack of recognition, unclear expectations have been noted to cause team member discontent. Setting goals with each department, and how individual and department goals come together for your entire team, is like setting the destination on Google Maps so that everyone knows where the organization is trying to go.

In fact, it’s a good idea to work with staff to set departmental goals to gain team member buy-in. Discuss what the company needs to achieve to be successful and then elicit ideas from team members about how they can make the biggest impact working towards those goals. Many missed targets happen because team members from the outset are not bought into the goal set for them. Buy-in is every bit as critical as accountability, so make sure you’re writing these goals down and measuring progress against them in the weeks and months to come.

No. 4: Give them the tools they need to be successful.

Goals alone aren’t enough. Great leaders know that they must also buy into their team members’ continued development and provide support to get the most from their teams. Start by asking the team what they think they’ll need to be successful and determine how aligned your assessments are. You would be surprised how wide the “expectation disconnect” can be between team members and managers.

In the session, provide them with dynamic, interactive training to get them excited, and then make plans to continue to reinforce concepts and build new skills. While coaching should happen often, scheduled,  formal training to boost morale and momentum can never be undersold. No matter the frequency, team members thrive when we show them we care and invest in their growth.

No. 5: Provide ‘so what’ factor.

The ‘so what’ factor can be as simple as connecting team goals and responsibilities to your company’s mission or helping team members understand how their current duties will help them achieve long-term professional success. Or it might include outlining a new incentive or bonus program for positive guest feedback, referral sales, or new promotion ideas.

The bottom line is that for every initiative you’d like to implement in your facility, be sure that you’re answering critical questions of why it’s important, how it connects to your purpose, and most of all, what’s in it for your guests and team members.

No. 6: Team-build with a purpose.

Team building activities are great to break up a meeting, get people moving, and strengthen team bonds. They are even more effective, though, when they tie to the overall message you’re conveying at the event.

For example, if the focus for the new year is on upselling, perhaps group team members together to try and “sell” each other on their favorite activity or tv show. Or if you want to promote the idea that guests and teammates deserve our empathy, consider a game like “Find the Common Thread” where groups must determine what members have in common, discuss stereotypes of those commonalities and how others might react (positively or negatively) to them. Afterwards, as a group, discuss how damaging stereotypes can be and how everyone deserves to be treated with empathy and respect.

No. 7: Let them eat cake (and other things).

No one likes attending a meeting without food. No one! So let them partake in catering options provided by your facility (that will also help them make recommendations to guests!) or have food or other treats brought in. Yes, always. People feel better about being in a meeting if they can enjoy lunch while they’re doing so. It helps them feel like you care about them and can even affect emotions positively.

Ready to jump-start your new year or season? Remember each of our seven steps to get started on the right foot. Good luck!

Have other ideas for a season kick-off? Share them in the comments or on Twitter!

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